Jane O’Hara, animal advocate and artist

Jane O’Hara, the animal advocate and artist–whose paintings tend to celebrate animals or explore animal issues—recalls a regular upbringing, amidst conventional companion animals. Only some years later, O’Hara adds, did she start researching animals, reading some influential books, becoming steeped in the good, the bad, and the ugly of eating and otherwise mistreating animals. It was around this period that O’Hara began placing animal images in her paintings. As her style evolved—O’Hara recounts working on a piece that she said represented “a turning point”—her work started to be recognized for exploring animal issues, depicting their plight, and exploring our relationships with them. This conversation took place just days before the opening of a major new exhibition, “State of the Union,” in which she examines how each of the states treat—and mistreat—animals, relative to their images. O’Hara outlines the genesis of the exhibition, the idea coming to her while on a visit to Florida, struck by a number of animal welfare transgressions in that state (the bear hunt, etc.) that stood in sharp contrast to its sunny image. This led to creating the first “State of the Union” painting. Landing an artistic residency enabled her to complete paintings covering four more states: Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and Colorado. From there, she just kept going, turning out depictions in this vein, of one state after another. Early on in the process, she decided to insert a different portrayal of her cat, Nellie, to each painting, going back to the earliest versions to apply the Nellie treatment. Meanwhile, while O’Hara was fashioning more and more of the 50 paintings, a show for this collection was booked three years in the future at New Bedford Art Museum, in New Bedford, Massachusetts; it’s not much in the future now: that date arrives June 1. She’s hoping that “State of the Union” will subsequently travel. As our conversation nears its conclusion, O’Hara addresses the ways in which working on this exhibit changed her. (https://janeoharaprojects.org/)

ALSO: At a couple of points in the show, Gary Gibbons addressed WMNF’s “Meet The Match” Endowment Fund campaign, explaining that if we raise $200,000 by July 5, 2023 that sum will be matched by Community Foundation Tampa Bay, thereby ensuring the station’s long-term financial health. Please help “Meet The Match” by donating: https://tinyurl.com/32febsa8

COMEDY CORNER: David Huntsberger’s “The God of Ants” (DS edit)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.

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